January 19, 2022
After nearly an 11-year gap, the newest installment in the Scream franchise is here. A lot has changed since then, from the on-again-off-again uncertainty surrounding the series to the passing of franchise creator, director and horror icon Wes Craven. Through it all, the Ghostface killer survived.
Grossing over $34 million and toppling Spider-Man: No Way Home over the four-day Martin Luther King Jr. Day weekend, Scream also helped to bring big-name filmmaking back to North Carolina. Wilmington provided the backdrop for the fictional town of Woodsboro in the fifth installment of the franchise and marks the centerpiece of a horror triple-header filmed in North Carolina with last year’s release of Halloween Kills and The Black Phone, set to be released in June, contributing to a record amount in film spending in 2021 for North Carolina.
With Spyglass Media Group now at the helm after acquiring the rights from The Weinstein Company, a decade has passed since we were last in Woodsboro running from a serial killer. The legacy of Craven’s beloved horror-comedy franchise continues– and the fifth film does so brilliantly.
Longtime series writer Kevin Williamson, the scribe behind the original, second and fourth films, is back as an executive producer, and Craven’s spirit is felt throughout the film. Legacy cast members Neve Campbell, Courteney Cox and David Arquette all return, as well as a whole host of new victims in Woodsboro.
The story takes place in the fictional California town first seen in 1996’s Scream. Now, a new Ghostface has emerged, and original badass Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell) must begrudgingly return to her hometown to uncover the truth. The copycat killer kicks things off in familiar fashion, calling an unsuspecting teenager, Tara (Jenna Ortega), and attacking her while she’s home alone. Only this time around, the girl survives. Tara’s sister, Sam (Melissa Barrera) and her boyfriend, Richie (Jack Quiad), return home to Woodsboro and team up with the veterans in an attempt to unmask the killer. Just like the first film, Tara’s friend group is filled with suspects, and things get even trickier knowing everyone has some connection to the original attacks.
Directors Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett have been making horror films for a while, their most notable film was 2019’s Ready or Not, before they were tapped to carry the torch of one of the genre’s best slasher franchises. Their modern horror sensibilities and ability to lean into tropes without feeling trite are a complement to the milieu created by Craven and Williamson.
There has always been a self-referential tone to the Scream franchise, from the original use of “the rules” of horror films to the latest installment taking stabs at reboot and sequel culture. Sometimes it’s the entire plot, and sometimes it’s fun exposition– but it is always there and it has become a staple of what fans expect. Olpin and Gillett inject their own flavor, leading to an edgy, beautifully shot film with brutal kills.
This sequel brings into focus fan expectations and trepidations, calling out toxic fandom in true meta fashion. As entitled critics have grabbed hold of some of entertainment’s biggest franchises, from Star Wars to Justice League, this is the direction a worthy Scream sequel should take. While the Scream films may be too silly for some, they are– for the most part– very well-made horror films. It’s the fine line between horror and schlock that this franchise treads that makes it so compelling and rich.
Watch the trailer for Scream (2022) now playing in select theaters.